Hard Drive Not Spinning? Here's What You Can Try

spinning hard driveIt’s a common problem – power is applied to a hard drive, and the hard drive does nothing. The usual spinning sound you hear when you power up your computer is absent, and when the hard drive of your computer won't spin, you can't access any of the data stored on them. You may hear nothing, but often a beeping noise comes from the computer after the platters of the hard drive attempt and fail to spin. While you may not be able to access your data right now, you liekly still have the ability to retrieve the data. Understanding why a hard drive stopped spinning is the first step towards getting access to your valuable files stored on the hard drive.


A number of situations can cause a hard drive’s platters to fail to spin.

  1. Electrical damage to the printed circuit board
  2. A head crash. This occurs when the read/write heads of a hard drive come into contact with the platters.
  3. Seizure of the data platter motor - what powers the spinning platters.

It's best to outline each scenario in greater detail to see if it relates to your specific situation.

Dropping it

If your hard drive was accidentally dropped, bumped, or had a sudden impact, the hard drive may have stopped spinning. Dropping your hard drive often results in a head crash, which results in the head drive coming into contact with the platters containing all of your hard drive’s data. The read/write heads can become stuck to the platters, and you can often hear and feel a small twitch in your hard drive as the platters and heads try to free themselves.

At this point, there really isn’t anything you can do on your own without the help of a professional. Likely, the heads of the hard drive will need to be replaced before data recovery from the hard drive can even be attempted. It's best to do nothing with the hard drive and get the help of a professional as soon as you can, as trying to power up your hard drive on your own can risk further damage to the hard drive and make recovering data from the hard drive more difficult.

Electrical Surge

Like all electronics, hard drives are not immune to power surges. In the event of an electrical storm, or an unexpected surge in power to your building or home, components on the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) of your hard drive can become damaged. Electrical surges can also affect the computer’s power supply unit. If you try turning your computer on, and it immediately turns itself off, the problem is likely isolated to the power supply unit of your computer. If your computer remains on, but you get no response from your computer’s hard drive, then it is likely an issue with the hard drive’s PCB. Spinning issues that make noises typically do not have anything to do with the hard drive's PCB. 

While it would make sense to just replace the PCB, it typically does not result in the hard drive working again. PCB’s have different firmware information stored on them, so it is necessary to have an identical PCB to replace the old one, and equipment that can transfer firmware information to the new PCB.


When functioning properly, the platters of your hard drive are able to spin by sitting on spindle that is spun by a motor inside your hard drive. The bearings on the motor are quite sensitive to any sort of shocks or sudden disruptions – especially drops. When a hard drive is dropped, quite often the bearings become seized, resulting in the motor being unable to work, and the platters being unable to spin.

To fix this issue, a platter swap is typically performed. This involves removing the platters, read/write head assembly, and the circuit board from the bad hard drive and transferring them to an identical or similar donor drive that has a functioning motor, allowing the platters to spin. The success rate of this procedure is pretty good, but it obviously depends on the how badly the hard drive was damaged. It’s best to let an experienced professional perform a platter swap, as they will know exactly what hard drive to transfer everything over to. You also need access to a Class 100 Cleanroom to avoid contamination of the platters.

Check For Backups

If you need files that are stored on your hard drive immediately, your best short term option may be to access backed up versions. Depending on your hard drive’s problem, it could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to get your data retrieved – even with the help of an expert. If your hard drive is currently working, be sure that you have up to date backed up versions of your files!

As you can tell, many bad things can happen to your hard drive that will cause it to stop spinning and functioning properly. Luckily for you, just because the drive has stopped spinning doesn't mean that the data on the drive is beyond recovering. The first step to recovering your data is identifying the underlying issue with the hard drive.

Data Recovery Group can help you identify the issue with your hard drive, and determine the options that are most ideal for your situation. Feel free to give us a call at (877) 315-7111, chat with us online, or send us a message to get started.